San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) and kurimanzutto are honored to announce Wing, an exhibition of photographs by visual artist, writer, and performer, Patti Smith. Presented from January 14–19, 2019, at the Diego Rivera Gallery at SFAI’s historic Chestnut Street campus, the exhibition features a selection of photographs centered on Smith’s connection to fellow artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The exhibition, which runs concurrently with the FOG Design+Art fair, is open and free to the public.
This show focuses on Smith’s strong ties to the artistic and literary movements pursued during travels to Mexico. Presented in the same space as Rivera’s 1931 fresco, The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City, the exhibition sparks a direct dialogue between Smith’s imagery and the subjects of her intimate gaze.
In her work, Smith reflects upon the timeless act of artistic creation and alchemy that unites artists by referring to a brotherhood of mental bonds that keeps ideas alive. In this way, the artist expresses her kinship to Mexico and solidarity with its revolutionary people — a sentiment demonstrated during performances and visits to the country over the years.
During these trips, Smith composed and dedicated poetry to figures such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Isamu Noguchi, Roberto Bolaño, and the habitués of the Café La Habana, which included Octavio Paz and Che Guevara. Each journey deepened her exploration of the universe of these luminaries with visits to their studios, homes, and places they frequented, as well as the close study of their oeuvre.
Wing is also the title of a poem, which speaks about freedom—a treasured right—while alluding to independence, and the power to travel to distant places. In the exhibition, groupings of silver gelatin prints provide an intimate encounter with small, everyday objects and places, revealing the admiration and reverence Smith holds for their original owners. Kahlo’s corset, Rivera’s bed, and Bolaño’s chair represent not only memories of her encounters with their owners across time and space, but also their influence on the artist. In the presentation of these images, the viewer is offered a glimpse into these moments of intimacy as well as Smith’s admiration and close observation of her subjects. Together, the photographs evoke a journey across the landscape of Smith’s mind, as she portrays the many inhabitants of her artistic heritage.
“I am not a photographer, yet taking pictures has given me a sense of unity and personal satisfaction. They are relics of my life. Souvenirs of my wandering. All that I have learned concerning light and composition is contained within them.” — Patti Smith, Land 250, Paris
Patti Smith: Wing is co-presented with kurimanzutto, Mexico City and New York in conjunction with FOG Design+Art at Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture.
IMAGE: Frida Kahlo's crutches, Casa Azul, Coyoacán, Patti Smith, 2012. Gelatin silver print, 8x10 in, Edition 2/10. Image courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City.